Sunday Message: Virtual Events and Vaccine Procurement

Dean Jon Levin writes to the Stanford GSB community about virtual event successes and COVID-19 vaccine procurement.

March 21, 2021

With the end of Winter Quarter and beginning of spring, I want to extend thanks for your continued positivity and effort to make the best of our circumstances. It has taken a lot to weather the surge of COVID cases and restrictions this winter. I know all of us are looking forward with optimism to next quarter.

Recent data continues to show positive signs. Hopefully, Santa Clara will soon move into the orange tier. With more leeway from the county, we are looking to expand seating at the Knight Management Center, working to offer food at Arbuckle, and exploring the possibility of opening the Bass building. We anticipate a small number of additional staff on campus in Spring Quarter to support students and faculty.

I wrote a few weeks ago that we had the potential to vaccinate the U.S. population by mid-summer if we could ramp up distribution efforts. We are approaching that trajectory. I enjoyed reading a recent Science article by GSB faculty member Susan Athey who was involved early in the pandemic in designing vaccine procurement. Her article discusses the thinking behind Covid vaccine incentives and what has worked so far.

School Events

A bright spot of the pandemic has been our ability to host successful virtual events and conferences, in many cases with a larger and broader set of participants than would have been feasible on campus. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in some terrific ones over the last few weeks:

  • GSB Climate and Healthcare Conferences. Our MBA students recently hosted major conferences on Climate and Healthcare, which stood out for the robust attendance, outstanding speakers, and timeliness of the topics, with the organizers of both conferences placing a strong emphasis on issues of equity.
  • LEAD Me2We. Last week, we hosted our annual Me2We event for participants in Stanford LEAD. This event has grown every year along with the size of the LEAD program, and the participation and engagement of the community continues to amaze all of us. This year we had hundreds of participants from dozens of countries join in for talks and discussions with fellow LEADers.
  • GSB Women’s Circles. This month we are holding our annual summit for the GSB Women’s Circles, this year involving several events. From the first Circle in New York in 2013, organized by Michelle Clayman (MBA ’79) and Danae Pauli (MBA ’12), the program has grown to involve more than 1,000 GSB alumnae — more than one in six of all women who have graduated from the GSB. The program has transitioned online this year, and the experience will serve us well in being able to offer more virtual Circles for global alums in the post-pandemic world.


In addition to the warmer weather and feeling of renewal, spring is a time for many holidays and observances around the world, including Persian New Year, Passover, Easter, and Ramadan. At the Levins’, we made plans for our second virtual Passover. Last year involved a lot of fumbling to get cameras oriented. By now, we are Zoom family holiday experts — with breakout rooms, interactive quizzes, videos to watch in advance. Much like Zoom teaching, everyone appreciates the pace of innovation, but we are ready to get back together in-person next year.

Wishing you health and optimism,


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